Shaun Johnson will make a shock return to the Warriors next season, the club confirmed today.
The 30-year-old playmaker has been signed on a two-year deal from next season after being told he wouldn't be retained by his current club, the Cronulla Sharks.
His return will see him resume his career with the Mount Smart Stadium club after making 162 appearances for the Warriors from 2011 to 2018.
Warriors CEO Cameron George said Johnson's heart "had always been with the Warriors", despite his move to the Sharks three years ago.
“We’re thrilled we’re able to bring him home to again play in the Vodafone Warriors jersey in front of our members and fans at Mount Smart," George said.
“Shaun stands among the top playmakers in the competition and he’ll give us a significant boost from next season.”
Johnson owns the Warriors’ all-time record for most points (917) and also ranks among the club’s leading try scorers with 63.
“Shaun’s homecoming is hugely exciting for both the team and the club as a whole,” Warriors head coach Nathan Brown said.
“I know how much our club means to him and we also know how much he will bring to the side with not just his proven ability but also with his experience, leadership and the value he’ll provide as a mentor for our halves.”
Johnson’s signing follows the acquisition of his New Zealand teammate Dallin Watene-Zelezniak this week along with recent contract extensions for Josh Curran, Bunty Afoa, Jazz Tevaga, Adam Pompey and Rocco Berry along with the long-term signing of Queensland State of Origin rookie Reece Walsh plus Melbourne prop Aaron Pene.
“It’s terrific for us as a club knowing Shaun is coming home,” Warriors recruitment manager Peter O’Sullivan said.
“He has big moments in his game but it’s his consistency which has really improved and we believe he can help our young players take their games to another level.
“When we met, you could see the passion in his eyes and hear in his voice what returning home means to him.”
Since leaving the Warriors, Johnson has made 40 appearances for the Sharks to lift his career tally to 202 games while he has now scored almost 1200 points in total.
After a delayed comeback this season, his return has coincided with a form revival for the Sharks who have climbed to eighth on the ladder with four straight wins.